Entries in Taxpayers (22)

Wednesday
Nov142018

The GOP is the natural party of suburban New Jersey.

Matt Rooney is right.  The Democrats’ unwillingness to end the redistribution of funds from the suburbs to failing urban schools remains the single biggest driver of our state’s nightmarish, neighborhood-killing property taxes.” 

The Democrats could – and should – be challenged on their cruel insistence that economically distressed families in suburban and rural New Jersey be made to subsidize rich corporations and wealthy professionals in places like Jersey City and Hoboken.  The tax breaks with which urban Democrat bosses favor contributors to political campaigns are paid for with subsidies from struggling communities throughout New Jersey.  

There is more than enough corporate and professional money in urban New Jersey to cover the education of the children who live there.  If those interested parties were made responsible for the children of their communities the educational systems there would be subject to a greater degree of local oversight and on-the-spot scrutiny by those stakeholders.  Absent that, under the current system of subsidy from afar, those subsidized stakeholders are more than content to allow political corruption to flourish, just so long as they keep getting their discount.

It is shameful for One Percenters like Phil Murphy, Steve Fulop, Lacey Rzeszowski, and Saily Avelenda to don their pussy hats and try to argue that their tax breaks are about “helping poor children”.  Not when their “philanthropy” is paid for by over-taxed, working class families trying to stay out of foreclosure. There is nothing LIBERAL about screwing over working class families to pay for propping-up corrupt urban political machines. 

As far back as the administration of Governor Jim McGreevey, the Democrats knew that half of the state’s economically disadvantaged children lived outside the over-funded urban Abbott school districts.  More than a decade has passed since the state Supreme Court issued its report on this – and NOTHING has been done to overturn the fundamental unfairness of the state’s system of funding education.  

Since the economic crash of 2008, suburban and rural poverty has grown in New Jersey and throughout the United States.  That’s what the liberal to centrist Brookings Institute has argued in their published studies.  Brookings’ experts also note that, since the 1960’s, most of the nation’s anti-poverty programs have been aimed at the cities.  

Rural and suburban New Jersey lack even the basic infrastructure to help get people back on their feet – on top of which local municipalities are robbed of the property taxes that could help with this.  Everything is taken from them – in the name of the urban poor – but for the use of the One Percent and the corporations they control.   

Corrupt urban political machines, corrupt vendors, rich corporations, and wealthy professionals all make out under the Abbott regime.  The genuinely poor remain trapped in schools that, for all the money spent per pupil, fail to educate their students or prepare them for the working world.  The kids are used as pawns, as an excuse, for the corruption and those getting rich from it. 

More than a decade ago a prescient writer by the name of Paul Mulshine argued that the life of every child mattered and that the state needed to provide a uniform baseline of funding.  Instead, the Democrats have ensured that the money continues to miss those poor children living outside the Abbotts, while failing to help those living within the Abbotts.   

The question is, will those currently charged with leading New Jersey Republicans into their next battle recognize these stark facts starring them in the face?  Will they make use of them?  If not for their own political ambitions and those of their party – Republican leaders should be urged to do so on behalf of over-taxed working people, their children, and for the child pawns being used but not served.

New Jersey Republicans face extinction.  Their fighting prowess is minimal.  It has reached the point where any plausible Democrat candidate with a modicum of funding can expect to simply march in and take most of their remaining legislative seats. Not in Northwest New Jersey mind you, where every Democrat on the ballot was just ruthlessly slaughtered and where the Democrat who challenged Senator Steve Oroho in 2017 lost her school board seat. This is where the pussy hats run into a phalanx of flannel shirts (and those are the women!).   

In his column (https://savejersey.com/2018/11/n-j-republicans-are-letting-sweeney-appropriate-their-strongest-argument-rooney/), Matt Rooney raises the question of whether Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick is up to the task of fighting the Democrats next year.  Whether he is a “wartime consiglieri” or not.  We hope that he is, but at the present, he appears to be more concerned about how he is perceived within the “bubbles” of Trenton and Westfield (whose median income is double that of Sussex County).   

Assembly Leader Bramnick would do well to break out of this bubble.  “Bubble land” doesn’t understand America.  It is too rich, too privileged, too unconcerned with the basics of shelter and debt to worry about those who are.  Bubble land never understood the rise of Donald Trump.  Never got the levels of pain and disappointment that the eight gray years of Barack Obama brought to those working class people who voted for him in 2008.  They put it down to “racism” when it was really about the threat of foreclosure – of losing… everything

We urge Jon Bramnick and the other leaders of the NJGOP to embark on an experiment in listening and learning. Not the usual photo-op in Newark… go to where the newpoverty is.  Visit a food pantry in what everyone thinks is a middle class town.  Watch the people who once had a good job, with benefits and a pension, but who now work three without.  Notice the high priced automobiles, now over a decade old.  Drive around and take note of the “for sale” signs.  Visit an encampment of working people who have lost their homes. 

This isn’t a time for rallying around a corrupt Establishment that – uses poor people as an excuse to rape working people to make rich people richer.  No matter how you personally feel about the Democrats responsible, these are bad policiesand they must be challenged.  The choice must be one of clear-blue-water between the parties.  Again, if not for your own political ambitions and those of your party, do it for the over-taxed working people, for their children, and for the child pawns being used but not served.

Matt Rooney makes the point very clearly:  “Taxpayers want an advocate… not a mediator.” Amen.

Thursday
Aug092018

Be careful of folks spreading b.s. about Clerk/ Sheriff

County Clerk Jeff Parrott and Sheriff Mike Strada are both reformers who have reorganized their departments, cut spending, increased revenues, and saved taxpayers millions.  Over the past few years, certain freeholders have attempted to mess with their offices which are – by design and by law – INDEPENDENT of the Freeholders who, as we have seen time and time again, have enough to do to keep from messing up what they’re in charge of. 

But that hasn’t prevented them from casting a jealous eye at two departments that are reducing staffing while increasing revenue to the taxpayers (Also-Known-As “property tax relief”).  The opportunities by the Board to slip in a favored employee or two are great, but have been resolutely resisted by Parrott and Strada.   

And so it seems that those certain someones on the Board have leaned on the county’s largest (?) newspaper to stir the pot and lay out some propaganda with which to smear our Clerk and Sheriff.  After all, the Board and the newspaper share the same lawyer. 

Take the Clerk’s office as a for instance.  At a Board meeting earlier this summer, one of the Freeholders crowed and scratched like some bellicose rooster.  He was on and on about a word he had just discovered, called “breakage.” 

He was so fond of the word that he used it over and over again… whether it was the appropriate word or not.  He liked the sound of the word. It made a pleasant, romantic sound, not unlike the word “garbage.”  But there you are.

What he was actually talking about was people.  Good people who work for the county’s taxpayers and who are earning for the taxpayers from their good work hundreds of thousands in revenue that wasn’t there before – revenue that is going back to the county as property tax relief.  If only those certain members of the Board will allow it, not spend it, on shit like lawyers studies, at over $8,000 a page… to tell us silly stuff that we already know. 

Under Jeff Parrott, the Clerk’s office has cut its staff and has not hired extra staff – even when two employees became seriously ill and could not work. Instead, their duties were split up and reassigned to those remaining staff.  And they still handled more documents, collected more fees, and earned more revenue for the County and property tax relief for the taxpayers. So one would think that, having come out so far ahead, nobody would begrudge those hard working employees (who made do with less staff and covered for their two grievously ill compatriots) a small bonus in their pay packets, by way of a thank you. 

Oh, but that’s where our rooster comes in.  “It’s breakage” he snorts!  Of course, it’s not “breakage” when they spend a half million on a no-bid contract for a friend who produces a thin report that isn’t worth the paper to wipe your bunghole with.  “Why that thar is goooood gov’ment,” says the rooster.

So let’s be very wary about a rooster who crows to distract us from the real issues facing the county’s taxpayers.

Wednesday
Jul112018

Media Research Center slams NJ Legislature for “propaganda bill”

It’s not quite Joseph Goebbels’ Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda or Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (don’t all these ideas sound more at home in their original German… or Russian… or Spanish… or Chinese…???) but it’s a start in that direction.  Yep, it is bad enough that the state forces every property taxpayer to subsidize the larger state newspapers by requiring county and local governments to pay for advertisements – notices that they could put on their government websites for free – but now we have direct government funding of so-called “journalism”.  Stand by for the FAKE NEWS to fly.

Our friends at the Media Research Center hit the nail on the head…

NJ Passes State-Funded News Bill - Isn't That Called 'Propaganda?'

By P. Gardner Goldsmith

Glorious news! Following in the footsteps of the Obama-approved and promoted “Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Act” of 2016, which sets aside over $150 million in federal tax funds to hand to dinosaur news media outlets, the legislature of New Jersey is finally ready to do its part! Isn’t that exciting?

Absolutely! As Joe Setyon reports for Reason, both the NJ House and Senate recently passed a bill to create the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium - state-funded news – beyond the already hair-graying public television and radio systems and state-funded colleges in the Garden State.

It’s a $5 million handout to “local press”, because, you know, when people don’t find it in their interest to purchase local newspapers or visit local news websites, they should be forced to pay for what they don’t want…

Right?

Writes Setyon:

The legislation in question creates a nonprofit group, the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, charged with approving grant applications for local news. The bill has passed both houses of the state legislature; Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has not yet signed it, but on Sunday he did sign a state budget that sets aside the money.

You can read the full article here: 

https://www.mrctv.org/blog/nj-legislature-passes-state-funded-news-aka-propaganda-bill

Setyon adds:

The liberal Free Press Action Fund has been pushing for such legislation for years. The group initially asked for a much larger endowment of $100 million, but it still greeted the news with pleasure. 'Never before has a state taken the lead to address the growing crisis in local news,' State Director Mike Rispoli said in a statement, calling New Jersey  a model for the rest of the nation.'

No thanks. There’s been enough of this nonsense in other areas of American culture. We don’t need it in journalism. And can one still call it “journalism” when it’s funded by the state?

Technically, the more precise term is “propaganda”.

For more information on the work of the Media Research Center, visit…

https://www.mrc.org/

Friday
Jul062018

William J Hayden: Do you agree with President Trump that Americans should come first?

**William J. Hayden is the Vice President of Skylands Tea Party**

In society we protect what we love and care for. 
Our families are protected at night by a minimum of a locked door. And by possibly a weapon of some type.
The rich and connected, have fences, security systems, and armed guards.
And in all instances, we want to know who we are letting in, before they come in, for our protection. 
Our banks, and government buildings all protected as well. And in many instances again, you have to show who you are, or at least show you are not a threat.

So why would we let people into this country without knowing who they are?  
After all, this country is our collective home. We all live here, we should all know that those coming here are at least not a threat. 

Here is a stat that should put things into perspective as to why we want to know who is here.

95% of foreign nationals in federal prison are illegal aliens 

Actually 23% of all federal inmates are illegal

Your safety should be #1 and illegal immigration is unsafe

 

Thursday
May312018

Boss Graham and the boys get personal with Sussex Mom

By Sam Adams (A Reader) 

The Turkish are coming the Turkish are coming, or at least that's what Boss Graham would like you to believe.  

Reminiscent of the movie The Russians Are Coming. But unfortunately not as funny.  

It's about as believable as Russian collision, but that already taken by the Democrats, Boss Graham’s people. And with collusion we see how that has cost the taxpayers.  

At this point they seem to be willing to throw anything at Councilwoman Fantasia.  

She does not own a charter school. 

She isn't funded by extremists.  

Moreover all of this hogwash is laughable.  

But if you want a good fairy tale sit on old Boss Grahams lap and listen to him spin a good tail.  Just remember, with him and his people, there is no happy ending.  

Taxes will go up, the solar thing will run unresolved into Boss Graham’s election, and you'll have funded all this with your tax money for them to score political points!!

------- 

Over the weekend, a blog run by Freeholder Jonathan Rose made some claims about a charter school in Bergen County.  It claimed that the school was controlled by a Muslim cleric. 

That turned out to be a lie. 

Freeholder Rose’s blog claimed that the Muslim cleric was a “terrorist”. 

That turned out to be a lie too.

The most troubling aspect of this is that Freeholder Rose operates his blog with input from fellow Freeholders George Graham and Carl Lazzaro.  That’s a Freeholder Board majority, making their actions the actions of Sussex County!  

And just as troubling is the involvement of New Jersey Herald reporter Eric Obernauer.  In open conflict-of-interest, the Warren County resident is also a Sussex County official.

Here are the facts.

The charter school (Bergen Arts and Science Charter School) has no affiliation with any political or religious institutions. Period.

When asked, the school administration noted:  “The only exception is our professional affiliations with colleges and universities in the state with whom we collaborate in our educational programs, such as the past placement of student teachers from the College of St. Elizabeth. Some school buildings are leased from Catholic dioceses, but the schools are not affiliated with the Catholic Church.”

The Muslim cleric that Freeholder Rose’s blog smeared as a “terrorist” is a religious leader named Fethullah Gulen.  He is a religious moderate and an ally of the United States of America, which has provided him with protection from persecution.  Gulen lives in Pennsylvania and has been praised by the Pope.  Yes, the Pope.

Gulen is a religious leader, originally from Turkey, who opposed the hard-line Islamist regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Erdogan is the increasingly dictatorial and Islamist President of Turkey.  Erdogen has been repeatedly in the news for purging the judiciary, jailing journalists who write unflattering reports, and successfully intimidating the opposition.  Erdogan had a law passed to allow the government to ban websites and he has promised to "rip out the roots" of Twitter.  He has even attempted to censor speech in other nations, in 2015 Turkey demanding that Germany prosecute a poet who had written some verse critical of Erdogan. 

Gulen accused Erdogan of political corruption in 2013.  Erdogan responded by banning Gulen's books.  Erdogan had Gulen indicted on charges that a Turkish judge threw out.  So Erdogan had Gulen re-indicted a few months later for treasonable offenses that carried the death penalty.  Gulen fled Turkey, came to the United States, and was convicted in absentia.  He faces death if he returns to Turkey.

Freeholder Rose’s assertion that religious leader Gulen is a “terrorist” is nothing more than a parroting of Islamist dictator Erdogan’s propaganda. As the United States State Department has stated over and over again, “Gulen has condemned terrorism.”  In fact, he was the firstMuslim religious leader to condemn terrorism, warning that it “has no place in Islam.”  Gulen wrote a condemnation article in the Washington Poston September 12, 2001, one day after the September 11 attacks, and stated that “A Muslim cannot be a terrorist, nor can a terrorist be a true Muslim.”   

Finally, an investigation by the Bergen Record uncovered no direct evidence of Gulen’s involvement in the operation of charter schools in New Jersey. 

So what we have is a blog run by the three-member majority (Rose-Lazzaro-Graham) of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Sussex County making a false and defamatory statement against a Charter School, licensed by the State of New Jersey, and a religious leader who has been praised by the Pope and other religious leaders – and who is under the protection of the United States of America. What are these three thinking? 

Now here is the story behind the story of why officeholders like Jonathan Rose have been looped into recycling the propaganda of an Islamist dictator.

A number of New Jersey political insiders – major players in the New Jersey political establishment – work for an international lobbying firm called Mercury Public Affairs.  For example, Juan Melli was recently hired as a Vice President.  Melli is the founder of BlueJersey.com, a former associate editor and columnist for David Wildstein's PolitickerNJ.com, and communications manager for Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.  Melli joins several other members of the New Jersey political establishment at Mercury Public Affairs.  These include Mo Butler, United States Senator Cory Booker's campaign consultant, former chief of staff, and "longtime advisor"; Michael Soliman, United States Senator and former Chairman of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations Robert Menendez's political advisor and former State Director; and Michael DuHaime, Governor Chris Christie's campaign consultant and someone who has GOP contacts throughout the state. 

Once upon a time, campaign managers were locals who came up through the ranks alongside the politicians whose careers they helped to manage.  But as more money washed into DC and was funneled into campaigns, that changed.  Consultants proliferated and firms became larger.  Following the money, a few either merged with or morphed into public relations and lobbying (government relations) operations.  Why not?  Corporations paid big for access to politicians and there is nobody politicians love more than the person who got them elected. 

It was only a matter of time that things went global.  And that is why these New Jersey political operatives became members of an international firm representing the interests of quite a few unsavory foreign governments.  Mercury Public Affairs is itself a subsidiary of an even larger international firm that handles the image-making  for Russian President Vladimir Putin, receiving credit for, among other accomplishments, getting Putin's face on the cover of Timemagazine -- as the "Person of the Year" for 2007. 

Mercury Public Affairs began in 1999 as a decidedly Republican shop with connections to the RNC and politicians like John McCain and Mitt Romney, around 2013 it embarked on a mission to "diversify" -- meaning making the firm "more bipartisan and full-service."  Mike DuHaime joined the firm in 2009, first as a "managing director" but swiftly rising to partner.  Michael Soliman joined Mercury in 2013 and became a partner this year.  Mo Butler joined as a "managing director" in 2016.  Mercury Public Affairs has 10 partners and 160 employees.  Omnicom purchased Mercury in 2003.

Mercury Public Affairs has 18 offices worldwide -- including London; Mexico City; Washington, DC; New York; and Westfield, New Jersey.  The New Jersey offices (a satellite operates out of Trenton) of Mercury are the haunt of Messrs. DuHaime, Soliman, Butler, and other connected operatives like newspaperman Darryl Isherwood (former top political reporter for the Star-Ledgerand editor of PolitickerNJ), and "Christie campaign vet" Mark Mowers.   

In January 2015, Michael Soliman registered with the United States Justice Department, pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as a person representing the Embassy of the State of Qatar.  You must have read about Qatar in the news...Amnesty International has accused Qatar of being complicit in human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Yes, slavery.  In fact, the United Nations recently gave Qatar one year "to end migrant worker slavery" or face an international investigation.   

Qatar is just one of freedom's garden spots represented by Mercury Public Affairs. Remember the controversy in Uganda, when the President of that country decided that homosexuality was a crime that should be punishable by death?  Well, the law he wanted passed was "moderated" in December 2013, substituting life imprisonment for the death penalty.   In 2015, Mercury was brought on to provide public relations, lobbying, and media monitoring services with regards to the Office of the President and the Ugandan government in general on subjects beginning with "human rights" and ending with "good governance."  For which the contract calls for Mercury to be compensated at the rate of $50,000 per month, with $150,000 up front.

Mercury also represents individuals.  Folks like Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi, who in 2003 led an anti-American demonstration in which he personally burned an American flag.  For its work, Mercury pocketed a $30,000 monthly retainer, plus expenses. 

In January 2016, Mercury Public Affairs partner Morris Reid negotiated a contract with Amsterdam & Partners, an international law firm with offices in London and Washington, DC.  The document is marked "confidential and privileged" but is public information under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  In August of 2015, Amsterdam & Partners signed a contract with the Turkish Ambassador to the United States to provide legal services related to a "matter of importance" to the embassy.  The government of Turkey paid Amsterdam a retainer of $50,000 a month. 

While the contract stipulates that the greatest security and confidentiality be observed, under the terms of the contract between Amsterdam and Turkey, third parties may be hired "as the Firm and the Client agree in writing are necessary to further the Engagement."  And so, in March of 2016, Amsterdam hired Mercury to perform work on behalf of the Turkish government for $20,000 a month -- above and beyond what was being paid to Amsterdam by Turkey.  It is in the contract between Amsterdam & Partners and Mercury Public Affairs that we learn what all this cloak and dagger is in aid of:

The Amsterdam-Mercury contract references an "investigation into Fethullah Gulen and his organization in the United States."  We know who he is.

The government of Turkish President Erdogan has been trying to extradite Gulen back to Turkey so they can put him to death, but the government of the United States is protecting him. In the hours after a Turkish coup attempt in 2016, Erdogan was quick to blame Gulen, while Gulen put forward the theory that Erdogan had staged the coup himself in order to consolidate power. 

The Associated Pressidentified Amsterdam & Partners (the firm Mercury is working for) as "lawyer(s) for the Turkish government" and quoted Robert Amsterdam:  "There are indications of direct involvement (in the coup attempt) by Fethullah Gulen." Amsterdam added that "according to Turkish intelligence sources, there are signs that Gulen is working closely with certain members of military leadership against the elected civilian government."  That sounds a lot like Freeholder Rose’s blog, doesn’t it? 

Why does Mercury Public Affairs want to be a part of extraditing a moderate religious leader to satisfy the rage of an Islamist dictator?  The answer is simple:  MONEY… FOREIGN MONEY… THE FOREIGN MONEY OF AN ISLAMIST DICTATOR. 

Why are members of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders associating themselves with an effort to tarnish the reputation of a moderate religious leader, which will make it easier to extradite and murder said religious leader?

The close relationships with many in New Jersey politics that Mercury's partners and employees enjoy is a matter for deep concern.  Freeholder Boss George Graham operates a political consulting business.  Has he been hired by Mercury, a client of Mercury, or an associate of Mercury?  His public disclosure reports require him only to list his political consulting firm, not its clients or sources of money. 

Both Freeholders Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro operate similar businesses that hide their sources of income from the public, making it impossible to know whether or not their assault on this moderate religious leader was inspired by Mercury Public Affairs.  In any case, as the three members of the Freeholder Board constitute a majority and they have launched this attack, they should publicly come clean about it.

Wouldn't it be better if the Sussex County Freeholder Board stuck with figuring out how lower property taxes and cut debt instead of shilling for foreign governments?  With all this money from foreign powers floating around, the Board should avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. 

Finally, trashing the reputation of a Charter School and calling someone a “terrorist” who isn’t are things that can get the Freeholder Board’s majority sued. If that happens, who is going to pay for it?  The taxpayer, of course!